The GOP Convention Is Done, But The Swag Lives On

Sep 1, 2012
Originally published on September 1, 2012 10:31 am



Finally, a story of a couple of guys on a road trip to find a few things that may be priceless. Remember, it's a road trip. Our two stars are...

LARRY BIRD: I'm Larry Bird.

HARRY RUBENSTEIN: Hi, this is Harry Rubenstein.

SIMON: Larry Bird and Harry Rubenstein are curators at the National Museum of American History. They've been in Tampa this week and will be in Charlotte next to collect stuff.

BIRD: I mean, it could be anything - banner, badges, buttons, ribbons.

SIMON: Convention stuff that may one day be the stuff of history.

RUBENSTEIN: We're trying to build out the collection that we have back in the museum that goes back to George Washington, and maybe even a little before.

SIMON: Political conventions are awash with stuff, twinkling pins, American flag ties, cowboy, baseball and stovepipe hats, but Harry Rubenstein says they do have standards.

RUBENSTEIN: An example of something that didn't make the cut but was wonderful to see were the delegates from Kansas. A number of them dressed up as characters from the "Wizard of Oz" for the first night. We didn't ask them for their costumes.

SIMON: After all, the museum already has Dorothy's ruby slippers, but Larry Bird says they do find nuggets of collectors' gold.

BIRD: We saw a wonderful ribbon from the Washington State delegation. It was a complete throwback to the 19th century. This elaborate assemblage that had this little seal of Washington in it and it was just amazing, so that made the cut.

SIMON: They look for items that represent each convention session or spotlight the passion of supporters, memorable speeches. The most memorable item from this year's Republican convention may be a chair used by Clint Eastwood as a theatrical prop for President Obama. Larry Bird says...

BIRD: Yeah, you know, you really wonder where that chair is now.

SIMON: Curators hit the road today to drive to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they'll resume their search for Smithsonian quality kitsch.


SIMON: And you're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.